Castro-Neves, Mercedes-Benz Score Front Row For Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Four Mercedes V8s in Top 10 Mercedes Champ car driver Helio Castro-Neves qualified on the front row of the starting grid for tomorrow's Bosch Spark Plug Grand...
Castro-Neves, Mercedes-Benz Score Front Row For Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Four Mercedes V8s in Top 10
Mercedes Champ car driver Helio Castro-Neves qualified on the front row of the starting grid for tomorrow's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, round four of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Castro-Neves, with his Hogan Racing Mercedes Champ Car dialed in perfectly all weekend, set blistering times in practice sessions and posted the second-quickest qualifying time of 19.601 seconds (173.746 mph) on the 0.946-mile Nazareth Speedway oval. The young Brazilian missed the pole position by a thousandth of a second to Juan Montoya.
The compact Mercedes IC108E V8 powerplant rocketed four drivers into top 10 positions. PacWest Motorola Mercedes driver Mark Blundell turned in a qualifying lap in 19.775 seconds (172.217 mph) for fifth position on the grid. Patrick Carpentier, who set the qualifying lap record here last year, will start his Player's/Forsythe Mercedes next to Blundell in sixth position with a time of 19.842 seconds (171.636 mph). Carpentier's teammate, Greg Moore, who leads the PPG Cup driver's championship, claimed the outside position on the fifth row with a time of 20.005 seconds (170.237 mph).
Brazilian veteran Mauricio Gugelmin, battling understeer, will race from the eighth row having recorded a lap in 20.235 seconds (168.302 mph) in his PacWest Hollywood Mercedes Champ Car. Al Unser Jr., returning to the Marlboro Penske Mercedes cockpit for the first time since his crash at Homestead's season opener, will start from 23rd position with a qualifying lap in 20.750 seconds (164.125 mph).
The green flag for the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix will wave Sunday, May 2, at 12:30 p.m. (live, ESPN).
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Second/19.601 seconds) "Of course when you do so well all weekend you hope for the best. We have a very good car and are in very good shape on this front row. The team has done a great job. We have to be patient tomorrow, it's 225 laps. We have to take it easy and be fast.
Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Fifth/19.775 seconds) "I look forward to racing tomorrow. I feel pretty good about the lap. I've been happy with the car all weekend. We've been getting good engine performance as well. I can't wait to get back to winning."
Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Sixth/19.842 seconds) "We made some small changes for this afternoon - nothing major. There is some push in the car, and the air density changed since this morning and that affected my lap. Coming out of turn two I had to lift and so the time came off. It will be a long race and if we're there at the end I'll be happy."
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (10th/20.005 seconds) "I tried a little too hard in turn two and went a little high. Then I had to back off and be sure to get a decent lap. It's going to be a long, long day tomorrow. We have to have good pit strategy and good pit stops like we did in Japan. We'll have to make it up on restarts and in the pits." Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (15th/20.235 seconds) "We had a good test here before Motegi, but we haven't been able to reproduce that set up. There is push in the car that we can't yet get rid of. "There will be crashes tomorrow. It's not driveability, it's just unpredictable. Any outside factor -tires, debris - and the car gets out of control and you don't know where you are. There won't be side-by- side racing. I can see a few cars in the wall."
Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (23rd/20.750 seconds) "We haven't been able to get the set up right this weekend. We've been back and forth between oversteer and understeer, and haven't been able to achieve the balance needed to lay down a fast time. We've just got to keep chasing it, focus on running all day tomorrow and see where the chips fall."
Qualifying, Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Nazareth, Pa. May 1, 1999